The Liberal Democrats and the Green Party have both said they would reinstate nursing bursaries if elected.
The Liberal Democrats have said they would pay for the return of bursaries for areas of care that are struggling with particularly acute shortages, such as mental health and learning disability nursing.
They also promised an extra £35 billion for the health service and social care in England, Wales and Northern Ireland over the next five years, and said they would make ‘better use’ of nurses, physiotherapists and pharmacists where ‘clinically suitable’.
Meanwhile, the Greens joined Labour in pledging £1 billion a year to nurse education to reinstate all nursing bursaries, as well as promising to increase the NHS budget by ‘at least’ £6 billion a year until 2030.
Chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Dame Donna Kinnair welcomed the pledge from the Liberal Democrats. However, she warned that it must be restored for nursing students ‘across the board, rather than just those in specialist areas such as mental health as the party is planning.’
She continued: ‘Without this, and comprehensive measures to retain nurses who are already working, political parties are only promising to fill a leaky bucket.’
On the Green manifesto, Dame Donna said: ‘The Greens are the first party in this election to recognise the need for a clear legal duty for the Health Secretary to ensure there are enough health and care staff to meet the needs of the population.
‘The RCN is clear that legislation is the first step to ensure this in every country in the UK – other parties now need to make this commitment too. It is also encouraging to see that the Greens would reinvest £1 billion a year in financial support for nursing students, following the removal of the nursing bursary in England’.